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Jerry Bergonzi - Just Within


Jerry Bergonzi - Tenor Sax, Dan Wall - Hammond B-3 Organ, Adam Nussbaum

Our Love Is Here To Stay (7:00)
Optimum Propensity (8:52)
Out House (5:28)
Reds Blues (7:35)
Before It Happens (5:42)
The Ray (9:37)
Hank (7:08)
Solar Return (8:40)
Giant Steps (5:02)
Total Time 65:11

Listen to CD Tracks

Dr. Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth century poet, essayist, and lexicographer, once said of another writer’s efforts, “It is both original and good.  Unfortunately, what is original is not good, and what is good is not original.”

    This criticism could probably be applied to much of the recorded output today.  Some musicians tend to reverse the past so much that they have trouble with new ideas and others want to be so original that they think they have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and discard any references to the past.

    The musicians on this recording have paid their dues.  They know what has happened in the past, and are totally familiar with the techniques needed to meet any musical challenge, but they also have their eyes on the present and future.  There’s great playing on these tracks.  You can definitely hear “influences” but not “idolatry.”

    Jerry Bergonzi has been one of the greatest saxophonists and musicians for many years.  When I first met him, he was still in high school and he was already a master.  And that’s not an exaggeration.  Nobody works harder at his art than Jerry and that’s why he’s always growing.  I’ve heard some of the most highly respected players in the world praise Jerry’s ability.  He has it all.

    Jerry has chosen two players to record with here and they are both personal favorites of mine also.
 Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum are among the most sought-after players in New York.  These guys have “ears” and the ability to make everything fit.  They get the job done and they make it sound so easy that I’m sure many listeners don’t realize the complexity of what they accomplish.  And what they do is always in the best of taste.

About the tunes:
    “Our Love Is Here To Stay” features a two-bar phrase in the bass centering around the tonic, “F.”  Jerry tells me that the intro was Dan’s idea.  Jerry reharmonized the rest of the tune and I loved the F-whole-tone scale at the top of the head.  The F-pedal figure continues for six bars into Jerry’s statement.  Jerry’s solo is masterful, as usual.  Adam’s brushwork is replaced by sticks for the solo.  Dan’s solo is a lesson in phrasing and contrast and Jerry returns for the head.  Check out the drum solo over the original pedal figure.  The chord using “D”-pentatonic tones at the end provides a great finish.

    “Optimum Propensity” is in A-flat and is based on the changes of “Like Someone in Love” with a little twist at the beginning featuring a IV major seventh chord.  I suspect you’ll hear a lot of musicians playing this head.  It really has a “hook.”  It starts off with a “two-feel” with Adam on brushes and Jerry sporting a dark Rollins-ish hue.  Notice how he uses space to offset his phrases.  The cymbal crash and perfect cutoff at the 17th bar while taking the head out is a great example of Adam’s attention-to-detail.  This guy’s got ears! When Adam switches to sticks, there is more “across-the-bar” playing by Jerry mixed with double-time patterns.  Notice how Jerry can play a duet with the different colors on the horn while never sacrificing the unity of his solo. Adam switches to brushes and Dan plays the bass “in-two” at the beginning of his excellent solo. When they switch to “four” and sticks he answers his phrases at varying places in the measures.  I was smiling through this whole track.

    “Outhouse” is a fast burner with some halftime written in.  Jerry takes the first solo with Adam percolating and Dan’s sparse comping.  I like Adam’s backbeats during the organ solo at the halftime selection.  Jerry returns to take the head out with great style.

    “Red’s Blues” is a medium swinger that features a IV major seventh and a modulation to the key of G-flat.  Jerry states the melody which uses displaced phrasing.  Dan takes the first solo which dances over Adam’s accents and Jerry’s solo tips his hat to Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter and, of course, Coltrane.  Adam has a nice solo featuring some “jazz march” highlights.  Jerry takes the head out and again we have a perfect ending.

    “Before It Happens” is in “three” and is a tender melody contrasting triadic and quartal elements.  Dan kicks off the soloing and Adam switches from brushes to sticks.  By the time Jerry solos the tune is already dancing away.  Notice how he takes some of the thematic material and weaves it into his solo.  By the way, Jerry told me he wrote this tune in a restaurant while waiting for his order to come to the table!

    “The Ray” is a fast, horizontal tune with Coltranesque overtones.  Jerry gets into his solo using D-flat mixolydian over a G-flat pedal while Adam creates and sustains a beautiful dialogue.  Notice how Dan’s legato comping cements it all together.  Dan’s solo features single lines mixed with chords and intervals.  Jerry takes the out head with some nice jamming at the end and they let us down easily at the finish.

    “Hank” is a tribute to Hank Mobley and is a “straight-eighths” tune with an Afro-Cuban feel under some very complex lines in Jerry's solo. Dan’s solo features short phrases that are used as motivic devices. Notice how he “colors” the melody with parallel intervals here and there. Jerry returns for some beautiful soloing before the conclusion.

    “Solar Return” is fast and starts with eight bars of C-7, another eight of Bmaj7 flat5 and eight bars of G7 flat-9sus 4.  Jerry told me he likes the subtle change between the last two chords.  Jerry takes the first solo with Dan letting the time “breathe” by sparsely comping at first and gradually increasing while Adam and Jerry smoke.  After a pause in the momentum, Dan takes center stage with some out-of-meter excursions.  Things take off again with Dan’s baselines alternating between broken and walking styles and Adam has a nice drum solo which contrasts between drum and cymbal colors.  Jerry enters again for the out head and check out Adam’s punctuations at the end.

    “Giant Steps” is given a novel treatment in that it begins with Dan playing in “six.”  When Jerry enters it switches to “five” but Jerry implies “six” in his phrasing.  Careful listeners will notice a quote of “Satellite” in the second chorus of his masterful solo.  The “trading” with Adam is a highlight of this track.  Jerry told me he liked going out with the “Giant Steps” cycle instead of the tune at the end.

    Jamey has already informed me that this trio will be recording again this fall.  I’ll be looking forward to that as I think it’s one of Jerry’s best units to date.  I’ve never heard him with a more fitting rhythm-selection.

This music is a perfect blend of the old, the new, and the original - and it’s all good.
Charlie Banacos - June '97

All tunes by Jerry Bergonzi except Our Love Is Here To Stay by
George & Ira Gershwin and Giant Steps by John Coltrane